Not particularly different from any other days other than the fact that Evan and I actually captured our culinary output on camera while running after the kids, enjoying Philadelphia, and much-deserved time with my parents. Cookbooks, blogs, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter are full of single shots of delicious eats but they don’t often give us a glimpse into a full day in the kitchen. I am going further and sharing a weekend. The farmer’s markets brimming with strawberries and vegetables have inspired me in the kitchen. Our local HeadHouse Square farmer’s market looked like an explosion of bright red and green. Had we not been limited by the one tote we brought with us, I would have bought every radish and green in sight.
So here goes… two days in our culinary life:
Tomatoes aren’t really in season yet but parsley, young red onions, and garlic are bountiful. I roasted the tomatoes in the oven until they were bursting with sweet-sour flavor and dressed in an herbaceous vinaigrette. It was sunny bright.
Earthy and flavorful is this deep-roasted broccoli with oven-fried garlic. Some florets are verdant green while others are crispy-baked. A perfect side served room temperature and just as good cold in the evening. Healthy, too.
Speaking of healthy but more importantly, absolutely delicious. This is the one dish I did not cook. My mom made this gorgeous, chilled borscht topped with sour cream, grated egg, scallion, cucumber and dill. Mouthwateringly delicious and perfect on a hot summer’s day.
Some go goo-goo for pasta salads but I find them to be too rich, too heavy and laden with cheese and unbalanced vegetables. Instead, I opt for a quinoa salad. Same principle… herbs, veggies if you’d like, and a light olive oil vinaigrette. This one has lightly pickled onions, garlic, and some herbs.
These easy oven-baked chicken thighs have made regular appearances at our dinner table the last few weeks and for good reason, too. They are so very delicious, a synch to make, and fill the house with the most beautiful aroma.
Corn chowder, to me, is a summer affair. This one is a very light version of Corn Chowder sans bacon and with part-skim milk. Light and refreshing it pleased even the tiniest of taste buds.
Eggplant is such a favorite at our house. Baked, sautéed, stewed, stuffed and even steamed, we eat it year-round and I cook it in the Italian, Turkish, Japanese, Indian and Azeri styles. Every which way it is unforgettable. This is pan-fried eggplant topped with a dill and garlic crema. It is my most favorite preparation because that’s how I grew up eating it.
And since hot weather, margaritas, happy hours, and siestas are upon us, we make guacamole. Simple. Avocados, red onions, and limes. A favorite snack for everyone … even Eliza.
And if you know me, you know that I am someone who does not like to make dessert optional. The rhubarb season is brief and it is one of the earliest spring plants. Rhubarb is best friends with strawberries but I thought it is special enough to be the star of a sweet ending. Here’s a rhubarb snacking cake. Yum.
Maybe I shouldn’t tell you that completing this culinary line-up are homemade strawberry-creme-fresh and chocolate ice creams. Well, the least I could do is not taunt with pictures. They are mind-blowing.
Whew. That was quite a lineup, wasn’t it. Well, all that cooking didn’t preclude us from enjoying our weekend outside the kitchen. We visited a farmer’s market, the Three Bears Park, and partook in the happenings of Old City. We also went to Spruce Street Harbor Park which has been open for a week, and Sophia has her eyes set on the skating rink at Blue Cross Summerfest. Sophia may be eyeing skating, but I am eyeing those hammocks and beer at Spruce Street Park.
I have to admit that the blogging has been a bit slow as of late because of, well, life, kids, Faberie. Busy, beautiful, bountiful life that has left not a lot of time for the documentation or retelling of all that living. Alas, having shed our winter coats we made space for our camera and endeavored to capture our everydayness.
Good weather brought us out for the majority of the weekend. First up, Sophia and I picked up on our tradition from last summer when Eliza was just a wee one and took a leisurely walk through the neighborhood to a coffee shop. Over her chocolate bar with a glass of water and my coffee we talked about everything and nothing in particular. We lounged, people watched, discussed the artwork on display, and planned the remainder of our time out. I cannot tell what it was exactly that relaxed and invigorated the both of us except that the fresh air, the quiet humdrum of our neighborhood and our conversation were just what we both needed. I am a firm believer in giving each child individual attention and uninterrupted time.
My parents, as has become the usual, offered to share their time this weekend with us. Giddy with excitement over the prospect of cleaning our entire house and cooking, we gladly accepted. Both Evan and I have grown accustomed to the fact that they offer to come and spend time with us and the kids and aren’t waiting to be invited.
Sunday was the first day since we’ve moved to Philadelphia that we had a chance to clean the entire house from top to bottom without interruptions. Those who know me, know that I like to have a clean home. I love the fresh scented and shiny floors, clean baseboards, polished appliances and sparking counters.
The warm weather helped usher in our spring culinary repertoire. We cooked light and delicious meals both new and old staples that pleased everyone’s tastes. First up were pan-fried eggplant topped with a garlic and dill dressing.
These evoke unbelievable memories. I remember the very smell of our kitchen in Baku, the sound they made as my mom fried them and the amazing garlic aroma that emanated as the cool garlicky dressing hit the hot eggplant slices. They’re so easy, so delicious and so … home for me.
I could have made an entire dinner from these but alas, our little diners weren’t as keen on a one-course meal so we added in a pasta course.
Simple and flavorful this dish took 15 minutes to make from start to finish and ten of those were inactive. Linguine, garlic zest, garlic juice, heavy cream, parmesan, olive oil and basil. Questo! The pasta wasn’t something that my mom cooked growing up, but maybe, one day my daughters will reminisce about playing by the kitchen and smelling the intoxicating lemon aroma while I finished the pasta in the sauce. Hopefully!
For the first time in what seems like forever, the weather forecast shows that we are not expected to freeze for the next few days and that alone gives me hope that spring may arrive yet. Another sure sign that winter has departed is the arrival (and departure) of the Philadelphia Flower Show. The show is a big event drawing crowds from near and far and reducing the convention center area to a standstill, especially on a weekend when the Reading Terminal Market is in full swing. Having been away for a few years, we decided to partake in what used to be our yearly tradition of visiting the flower show. Sophia went as well, though earlier in the day on Sunday and with my in-laws. This year’s theme was Disney and she was dressed in, according to my mother-in-law, a mandatory princess dress. She put the princess dress on later in the evening and now our entire house (including the toilet seat and now our bums) is covered in glitter. Needless to say, we will be retiring her royal wardrobe as a cost cutting measure since our “palace”, unlike Buckingham, does not employ an extensive cleaning staff. But I digress…
As per usual, there was quite a bit of cooking since we had on-hand help from both sets of grandparents. I made this vanilla-bean raspberry swirl cheesecake that
is was divine and so very beautiful. Alas, Sophia has decided that she doesn’t like cheese and even adding cake to the name wouldn’t sway her. Except that she eats mozzarella and cheese ravioli (though we call that just ravioli). Oh well, more for the rest of us.
And when we weren’t visiting the flower show, baking a cheesecake and getting treats from our local ice cream and candy shops trying to soak up every warm ray of sunshine outdoors, we were … living and enjoying.
This move, our life is more than ever crazy, busy, and exhausting. Still, it is thrilling, wonderful and I wouldn’t trade it for all the sand in the Sahara.